Oct 25, 2013
Neil Brenner gave the opening lecture at the Creative Time Summit in New York City on “Art, Place, and Displacement in the 21st century City.” Building upon Henri Lefebvre’s concept of the “right to the city,” Brenner discussed the possibilities and limits of place-making as a means to promote radical sociospatial transformation under conditions of neoliberalizing capitalism. The conference brought together a wide range of artists, designers, writers, film-makers, activists, musicians, curators and thinkers who are engaging in radical new ways with urban questions, conditions and transformations. It was exciting and inspiring to see the worlds of radical art/design and critical urban theory intersect so productively in this remarkable conference.
Dec 12, 2013
Neil Brenner gave the second Centenary Lecture at the Bartlett School of Planning of University College London (UCL) on the topic, "Urban theory without an outside." The session was moderated by Professor Mike Raco of the Bartlett School of Planning. The session was followed by the launch of Brenner's most recent book Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization (Berlin: Jovis, 2013), together with a wine reception for all who attended.
Nov 14, 2013
Neil Brenner gave a lecture reporting on his ongoing book project with Christian Schmid in the “On Architecture” series at the ETH-Zurich. After summarizing the agenda of the Urban Theory Lab, Brenner discussed some of the methodological and conceptual foundations of the theory of planetary urbanization that he and Schmid are developing. He concluded by summarizing the current work of the Urban Theory Lab on the urbanization of the world’s most “remote” places. Following the lecture, a wide-ranging discussion with the audience ensued, in which Christian Schmid also offered some comments on work in progress.
Feb 02, 2014
This semester UTL faculty member, Robert Gerard Pietrusko, will again be offering his course "Mapping: Geographic Representation and Speculation," with the help of UTL doctoral student, Daniel Ibanez. In this lecture, students learn to think criticially about geospatial datasets and unpack the conventions of carographic representation while deploying these techniques within their own work to visual complex spatial processes or speculate on future spatial possibilities.
Feb 27, 2014
Last week, Urban Theory Lab researchers Neil Brenner and Daniel Ibañez contributed to an interdisciplinary conference on visualization, "Thinking with your eyes," held at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The presentation focused on the Lab's use of visualization strategies as a tool of theory building in relation to urban questions, with specific reference to our ongoing project, "Extreme Territories of Urbanization." It was a pleasure to contribute to this event and to dialogue with other scholars in the social sciences, the humanities and the design disciplines about the role of visualization in contemporary research--and practice.
Diagram by Kelvy Bird of Dpict
The Arctic and the oceans as zones of urbanization: Prof. Philip Steinberg visits the Urban Theory Lab
Apr 18, 2014
The Urban Theory Lab recently hosted political geographer Phil Steinberg of the University of Durham for a series of lectures at the GSD. Professor Steinberg's visit was organized collaboratively with our friend and colleague Professor Pierre Belanger of the GSD's Department of Landscape Architecture, whose ongoing work on "the oceanic turn" has likewise entailed a close dialogue with Phil Steinberg's thinking about The Social Construction of the Ocean. In a first lecture, connected to our Extreme Territories of Urbanization project seminar, Professor Steinberg discussed his past and present work on the transformation of the Arctic. His new co-authored book on this topic, Contesting the Arctic, is forthcoming this summer with I.B. Tauris. In a second presentation, Professor Steinberg spoke to Pierre Belanger's seminar on the epistemological ramifications of the study of oceanic space for more general questions of political-economic geography. We are hugely grateful to Phil for a fascinating, provocative and extremely high-energy visit to our research groups at the GSD. We look forward to further dialogue about contemporary transformations of these and other "remote" places--and the methodological and cartographic challenges associated with their critical investigation.
April 2014 / ongoing: Preparations for MoMa exhibition on "Uneven growth: tactical urbanisms for expanding megacities"
Apr 20, 2014
Under the directorship of curator Pedro Gadanho, the MoMa's Department of Architecture and Design is currently preparing an exhibition on Uneven Growth, dealing with the design and infrastructural challenges faced by mega-cities around the world, to be launched in Fall 2014. The exhibition will feature research and design proposals by six interdisciplinary architectural teams on several major metropolitan regions, including Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York and Rio de Janeiro.
A preparatory workshop was held at the MoMa's PS1 this past October, in which the design teams presented their initial ideas for the exhibition. Critical commentaries and reactions were solicited by a panel of interdisciplinary urbanists, architects and designers, including Neil Brenner of the Urban Theory Lab-GSD. A video of the event has just been posted, which contains the team's presentations and the full panel of reactions (Neil Brenner's comments begin at: 2:38:18).
It is extremely exciting to see the MoMa engaging with questions of contemporary urbanism and design from a critical and global perspective. We eagerly look forward to the exhibition this Fall, to the accompanying book publication, and to the many discussions they will provoke about the contemporary urban conditon.
Apr 24, 2014
Neil Brenner, director of the Urban Theory Lab, recently contributed to a conference on the privatization of urban space in Zagreb, Croatia. The conference program included contributions by artists, activists and radical scholars concerned to decipher the implications of privatization and neoliberal enclosure for the fabric of contemporary urban life.
The event was connected to a broader interdisciplinary collaboration, conceived by New York-based curator Sarah Lookofsky and produced by Stacion--Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina--along with a team of Zagreb-based curators (Ana Kovacic, Lea Vene, and Sanja Sekelj). An art exhibition, "Liquidation," accompanied the conference at the Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic in Zagreb.
Additionally, the conference featured contributions from several members of the Right to the City movement in Zagreb (Pravo na Grad), who reported on their long history of struggle for more just, democratic and open forms of public space in the post-socialist city (for an informative overview of their work, see this blog post by Subversive Urbanism).
Photo credit: Davor Konjikusic
Mar 17, 2015
Before a full auditorium of over 400 attendees, Neil Brenner gave one of the Spring 2015 Dean's Lectures at the Melbourne School of Design on the topic "Towards a new epistemology of the urban." Kindly invited by Dean Tom Kvan of the Melbourne School of Design and graciously hosted by Professor Brendan Gleeson, Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, Brenner discussed his ongoing work on planetary urbanization and its implications for contemporary urban theory, research, planning and design. The lecture accompanied the launch of the Urban Theory Lab's exhibition on "Operational Landscapes", which was on display at the Melbourne School of Design in March/April of 2015.